Indiana and Purdue will meet Saturday for the 116th time in history and the 89th time for the Old Oaken Bucket. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Once again, though, the Bucket will be played for pride.
There are no bowl games on the line and really nothing to motivate either team other than the rivalry. And I’m not playing down the rivalry. I get that. Anyone who has been raised in an IU or Purdue household gets the rivalry.
But here is the obvious question for Indiana fans: All things considered, will the 2013 football season be remembered as the next step in the process for Kevin Wilson and his staff, or will it be remembered as a huge disappointment?
It’s difficult for me to look at it in anything but disappointing terms.
After all, this was the year that Indiana was going to be the benefit of eight home games. Looking at the non-conference schedule with Indiana State, Bowling Green, Missouri and Navy – all at home – this was the year that Hoosier fans believed if they could go 4-0 or 3-1 heading into the Big Ten that there was no reason they couldn’t win two or three Big Ten games.
But then Missouri happened. Who knew the Tigers were going to have the season they are having? Missouri won its first seven games, lost a double overtime decision to South Carolina, and has won three in a row since then. They are 10-1 going into Saturday’s game with Texas A&M.
Okay, so Missouri was better than expected but things still fit into the 3-1 formula if you could beat Indiana State, Bowling Green and Navy. Unfortunately, the Navy game was the second game of the year and Indiana had no answer for the wishbone offense. The Midshipmen have gone on to have a 7-4 record and get bowl eligible but watching Navy lose to the likes of Toledo, Western Kentucky and Duke has been a tough pill for Hoosier fans to swallow.
At 2-2 in the non-conference season, IU’s chances at a bowl seemed remote at best. But then came the win over Penn State and the future looked brighter. Beat Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue – three teams that Indiana clearly should have a chance to beat – and the Hoosiers would be bowl eligible.
Then came the Minnesota debacle and instead of being 5-6 heading into Saturday’s game with Purdue with a chance to get bowl eligible, the Hoosiers are 4-7 and playing for pride.
When you look back at this season and all of the things that Indiana was able to do especially on offense it’s simply a disappointment not to be in a bowl game.
The Hoosiers have set an all-time program record for total yards in a season with 5,410 with one game to go.
The 30 passing touchdowns in a season is a school record. So is the total number of touchdowns at 54.
Indiana’s season average of 36.8 points per game is well ahead of the all-time record of 33 points per game. IU’s average for total offense of 491.8 yards per game is almost 50 yards ahead of the previous best average.
Indiana has scored 405 points this season. The school record is 412 set in the ‘Play 13’ 2007 season.
I’m guessing if you polled Indiana football players they would trade all of those records for a chance to be playing one more game in December or January. Of course they would.
But again it’s not going to happen. There will be plenty of time in the offseason to talk about how important year four in the Kevin Wilson era will be.
For now, the most important topic for Indiana fans is to find a way to finish 5-7, bring the Bucket back to Bloomington and beat Purdue convincingly on Saturday.
Beyond that, the season is nothing short of a disappointment.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch